WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration has less than a week to decide on extending the nationwide eviction moratorium, a measure that housing advocates say has helped keep most cash-strapped tenants across the country in their homes during the pandemic.
Housing advocates are confident the ban, due to expire March 31, will be extended for several months and possibly even strengthened. Still, they argue the existing moratorium hasn’t been a blanket protection and say thousands of families have been evicted for other reasons beyond nonpayment of rent.
“The key to restoring and strengthening our economy is defeating COVID-19. To do that, we must keep people safely housed as we work towards vaccinating more people. This is what the American Rescue Plan does,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a statement. “But for now, an extension of the moratorium is clearly warranted until more people are vaccinated, more supportive housing programs come on line, and more help is deployed.”
The White House has indicated it is weighing an extension of the ban. The Department of Housing and Urban Development did not respond to a request for comment on the issue.
Eric Dunn, director of litigation for the National Housing Law Project, noted signs that a decision has already quietly been made. Last week, Dunn said, a HUD official conducted a call with housing advocates to field opinions on a new, streamlined form that tenants can use in order to gain protection from eviction.